Startup Uptiv Health launches with $7.5M in funding to reshape the infusion care experience for patients

Millions of patients with serious conditions like Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis require infusion therapy but there are significant barriers to treatment.

Treatment often requires multiple visits to in-patient clinics with little focus on providing a good patient experience, often resulting in trade-offs between quality, convenience and cost. At the same time, at-home infusion therapy presents its own challenges.

Uptiv Health launched as a new hybrid infusion care company with a focus on reshaping the patient experience. The startup opened its first location in Michigan and aims to combine quality, in-person infusion therapy with convenient, personalized virtual care management services. The company offers a consumer-grade patient app, state-of-the-art on-site experience and services to improve patient experience, support overall well-being and reduce cost of care, according to executives.

Uptiv Health is in-network in Michigan, and its flagship infusion care center in Westland, Michigan is open for referrals. 

"We want to humanize the infusion care experience by providing 'whole person care.' And by being a tech-forward organization that's going to marry retail-based infusion centers with technology, we think that's a winning formula, both for the individual going through a complex journey as well as the broader system," Torben Nielsen, CEO and co-founder of Uptiv Health, said in an interview. "Uptiv Health is a nice combination of software and infusion centers. The premise of Uptiv Health is how do we improve chronic condition management in today's healthcare system? We want to start out by looking at infusion and how infusion is done today. We found there are lots of opportunities to really improve that experience."

Nielsen has executive experience on both the payer and provider side of the healthcare market. He was a co-founder of healthcare transparency software company HealthSparq in 2012, which was acquired by Kyruus in 2021. He led innovation and strategic investment at Premera Blue Cross and he also served as the CEO of on-demand healthcare platform ZoomCare.

"We are trying to address three problems, accessibility, affordability, and patient experience. Today, infusion therapy typically happens in a hospital or hospital outpatient setting. It's hard to find parking, it's hard to find the department in the hospital where to get the infusion and once you get there, you're faced typically with a big room full of chairs, where other people are getting their infusions. It's very sterile, it's very hectic, with lots of noise. And it's not very personalized to you as a human being. It's a very transaction-focused experience where you get in, you sit in the chair, you get your infusion, and you leave," Nielsen said.

Receiving infusion therapy in a hospital setting also tends to be more expensive, he noted, and often is not a tech-savvy experience.

Looking to reset the infusion therapy experience, Uptiv Health takes a patient-centric approach– offering appointments after working hours and convenient scheduling for patients and 24/7 access to healthcare staff via the Uptiv Health app, according to the company.

Through the app, patients can digitally onboard and schedule appointments as well as make digital payments. Patients can also use the app to stay in touch with their care team and for symptom tracking. 

Uptiv Health is composed of an integrated team of clinicians, including family nurse practitioners, RNs, nutritionists and behavioral health specialists. Patients experience the same highly qualified staff at Uptiv Health as they would encounter in hospital settings, according to the company, but with the additional benefit of receiving infusion therapy in a comfortable environment with private infusion suites, WiFi, flat-screen TVs with access to streaming services, weekend availability and transparent upfront pricing, Nielsen said.

"It'll be almost a spa-like experience for patients where they can sit comfortably. And we have a very low nurse-to-patient ratio of one to three," he added.

The startup was built at Redesign Health and is one of 50 companies launched out of the healthcare startup creator since 2018.

“Uptiv Health was founded on the fundamental principle that we are treating a whole person, not just administering infusion therapy and sending patients home until their next appointment,” Nielsen said. “With patients top of mind, we prioritize clinical excellence while providing an experience that focuses on comfort, incorporates overall well-being and extends beyond the four walls of our clinic—completely reimagining the infusion therapy experience for patients suffering from chronic illnesses.” 

Going forward, Uptiv Health plans to leverage its virtual capabilities to provide additional services, like behavioral health support, as part of its focus on whole-patient care, Nielsen said. "Because we provide care to chronic care patients, we know that behavioral health and mental health challenges are more prevalent in that population," he noted.

The company secured $7.5 million in seed funding to expand its services, build new capabilities and move into additional markets, executives said. Uptiv Health opened its first clinic in Wetland, Michigan due to the payer mix and the prevalence of certain diseases, Nielsen said. The company will likely add another clinic in the next six to eight months.

The infusion care market in the U.S. is estimated to be more than $100 billion with approximately 3.2 million patients served annually. Infusion therapy is becoming an increasing treatment option to help patients manage chronic illnesses such as cancer, cancer-related pain, hemophilia, immune deficiencies, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other conditions. 

“There are immeasurable barriers to care for the over 3 million Americans annually who depend upon provider-administered therapies, which is compounded by the difficulties of coordinating complicated treatment plans," said Brian Nyquist, CEO of the National Infusion Center Association and founder of Infusion Access Foundation, in a statement. “NICA is dedicated to making sure community-based infusion centers continue to provide critical alternative sites of care for patients, improving access to affordable, quality care when they need it.”

Uptiv Health will accept Medicare and is in-network with many insurance providers including Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield, Priority Health, Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare. The company expects to announce more in-network health insurance coverage throughout the year.